Google to launch censored search engine in China

Posted on August 7, 2018

 

Search giant Google is reported to be planning the launch of a censored version of its iconic search engine for use in China, where the Californian company is currently banned from operating.

The information come from a report from The Intercept, which is based on leaked internal documents from the internet giant and states that it is working on a project code-named Dragonfly. As part of this Chinese version of the search engine, Google will blacklist and block websites and searches for terms relating to democracy, human rights and religion.

Google and its services have been banned from use in China since the turn of the decade, when it refused to agree to the Chinese government’s censorship terms in 2010 after being hacked in an attempt to unmask a number of Chinese rebels.

Back then, Google openly criticised the country’s censorship and the surveillance activities taking place in the nation’s capital city, Beijing. The company’s co-founder Sergey Brin, who was born in the Soviet Union, condemned the nation’s “forces of authoritarianism”.

Although there is not much indication that this authoritarianism style is receding under the current president, Xi Jinping, the number of users of the Chinese version of a search engine, Baidu, has risen sharply and generates billions of pounds in revenue.

Back in 2016, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google stated that the company wants to have a presence in China and serve Chinese internet users further, as a small number of services have been offered in the Asian nation since 2010.

The report from Intercept states that a custom app for Android devices has been developed and suggested to the Chinese government, and should Beijing officials approve of it, it could be launched in the next nine months.

This app will identify and filter all websites blocked by the nation’s ‘Great Firewall’ automatically. This will allow the government to continue to censor and monitor the internet usage of Chinese citizens.

The move by Google could be met with anger from a number of activists as it would be seen as contributing to the Chinese censorship regime. A source with knowledge of the Dragonfly project told The Intercept that there were ethical and moral concerns about the move, fearing that this could become a template for other countries with similar regimes.

A spokesperson on behalf of Google has said that the company provides several apps to Chinese users, as well as services such as Google Translate. The spokesperson said that the company does not comment on speculation surrounding any future plans.

Alan Littler

Account Executive at Engage Web
Drawing from a broad pool of experience that ranges from university studies in English Language to his work as a medical receptionist in a busy GP practice, Alan fits right at home as Engage Web’s Account Executive.

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